Saturday, February 04, 2017

Guess What Trump: "I Ain't Marching Anymore!"

The Anti-Empire Report #148

by William Blum 

February 4th, 2017

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”Alice in Wonderland

Since Yalta, we have a long list of times we’ve tried to engage positively with Russia. We have a relatively short list of successes in that regard. – General James Mattis, the new Secretary of Defense1

(If anyone knows where to find this long list please send me a copy.)

This delusion is repeated periodically by American military officials. A year ago, following the release of Russia’s new national security document, naming as threats both the United States and the expansion of the NATO alliance, a Pentagon spokesman declared:

“They have no reason to consider us a threat. We are not looking for conflict with Russia.”2

Meanwhile, in early January, the United States embarked upon its biggest military buildup in Europe since the end of the Cold War – 3,500 American soldiers landed, unloading three shiploads, with 2,500 tanks, trucks and other combat vehicles. The troops were to be deployed in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary and across the Baltics. Lt. Gen. Frederick Hodges, commander of US forces in Europe, said,

“Three years after the last American tanks left the continent, we need to get them back.”

The measures, General Hodges declared, were a “response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea. This does not mean that there necessarily has to be a war, none of this is inevitable, but Moscow is preparing for the possibility.” (See previous paragraph.)

This January 2017 buildup, we are told, is in response to a Russian action in Crimea of January 2014. The alert reader will have noticed that critics of Russia in recent years, virtually without exception, condemn Moscow’s Crimean action and typically nothing else. Could that be because they have nothing else to condemn about Russia’s foreign policy? At the same time they invariably fail to point out what preceded the Russian action – the overthrow, with Washington’s indispensable help, of the democratically-elected, Moscow-friendly Ukrainian government, replacing it with an anti-Russian, neo-fascist (literally) regime, complete with Nazi salutes and swastika-like symbols.

Ukraine and Georgia, both of which border Russia, are all that’s left to complete the US/NATO encirclement. And when the US overthrew the government of Ukraine, why shouldn’t Russia have been alarmed as the circle was about to close yet tighter? Even so, the Russian military appeared in Ukraine only in Crimea, where the Russians already had a military base with the approval of the Ukrainian government. No one could have blocked Moscow from taking over all of Ukraine if they wanted to.

Yet, the United States is right. Russia is a threat. A threat to American world dominance. And Americans can’t shake their upbringing. Here’s veteran National Public Radio newscaster Cokie Roberts bemoaning Trump’s stated desire to develop friendly relations with Russia:

“This country has had a consistent policy for 70 years towards the Soviet Union and Russia, and Trump is trying to undo that.” 

Heavens! Nuclear war would be better than that!

Fake news, fake issue

The entire emphasis has been on whether a particular news item is factually correct or incorrect. However, that is not the main problem with mainstream media. A news item can be factually correct and still be very biased and misleading because of what’s been left out, such as the relevant information about the Russian “invasion” of Crimea mentioned above. But when it comes to real fake news it’s difficult to top the CIA’s record in Latin America as revealed by Philip Agee, the leading whistleblower of all time.

Agee spent 12 years (1957-69) as a CIA case officer, most of it in Latin America. His first book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, published in 1974 revealed how it was a common Agency tactic to write editorials and phony news stories to be knowingly published by Latin American media with no indication of the CIA authorship or CIA payment to the particular media.

The propaganda value of such a “news” item might be multiplied by being picked up by other CIA stations in Latin America who would disseminate it through a CIA-owned news agency or a CIA-owned radio station.

Some of these stories made their way back to the United States to be read or heard by unknowing North Americans.

The Great Wall of Mr. T

So much cheaper. So much easier. So much more humane. So much more popular. … Just stop overthrowing or destabilizing governments south of the border.

And the United States certainly has a moral obligation to do this. So many of the immigrants are escaping a situation in their homeland made hopeless by American intervention and policy. The particularly severe increase in Honduran migration to the US in recent years is a direct result of the June 28, 2009 military coup that overthrew the democratically-elected president, Manuel Zelaya, after he did things like raising the minimum wage, giving subsidies to small farmers, and instituting free education. The coup – like so many others in Latin America – was led by a graduate of Washington’s infamous School of the Americas.

As per the standard Western Hemisphere script, the Honduran coup was followed by the abusive policies of the new regime, loyally supported by the United States. The State Department was virtually alone in the Western Hemisphere in not unequivocally condemning the Honduran coup. Indeed, the Obama administration refused to even call it a coup, which, under American law, would tie Washington’s hands as to the amount of support it could give the coup government. This denial of reality continued to exist even though a US embassy cable released by Wikileaks in 2010 declared:

“There is no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28 [2009] in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch”. 

Washington’s support of the far-right Honduran government has continued ever since.

In addition to Honduras, Washington overthrew progressive governments which were sincerely committed to fighting poverty in Guatemala and Nicaragua; while in El Salvador the US played a major role in suppressing a movement striving to install such a government. And in Mexico, over the years the US has been providing training, arms, and surveillance technology to Mexico’s police and armed forces to better their ability to suppress their own people’s aspirations, as in Chiapas in 1994, and this has added to the influx of the oppressed to the United States, irony notwithstanding.

Moreover, Washington’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), has brought a flood of cheap, subsidized US agricultural products into Mexico, ravaging campesino communities and driving many Mexican farmers off the land when they couldn’t compete with the giant from the north. The subsequent Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) brought the same joys to the people of that area.

These “free trade” agreements – as they do all over the world – also resulted in government enterprises being privatized, the regulation of corporations being reduced, and cuts to the social budget. Add to this the displacement of communities by foreign mining projects and the drastic US-led militarization of the War on Drugs with accompanying violence and you have the perfect storm of suffering followed by the attempt to escape from suffering.

It’s not that all these people prefer to live in the United States. They’d much rather remain with their families and friends, be able to speak their native language at all times, and avoid the hardships imposed on them by American police and other right-wingers.

Mr. T., if one can read him correctly – not always an easy task – insists that he’s opposed to the hallmark of American foreign policy: regime change. If he would keep his Yankee hands off political and social change in Mexico and Central America and donate as compensation a good part of the billions to be spent on his Great Wall to those societies, there could be a remarkable reduction in the never-ending line of desperate people clawing their way northward.

Murders: Putin and Clintons

Amongst the many repeated denunciations of Russian president Vladimir Putin is that he can’t be trusted because he spent many years in the Soviet secret intelligence service, the KGB.

Well, consider that before he became the US president George HW Bush was the head of the CIA.

Putin, we are also told, has his enemies murdered.

But consider the case of Seth Rich, the 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer who was shot dead on a Washington, DC street last July.

On August 9, in an interview on the Dutch television program Nieuwsuur, Julian Assange seemed to suggest rather clearly that Seth Rich was the source for the Wikileaks-exposed DNC emails and was murdered for it.

Julian Assange: “Our whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often face very significant risks. A 27-year-old that works for the DNC, was shot in the back, murdered just a few weeks ago for unknown reasons, as he was walking down the street in Washington, D.C.”
Reporter: “That was just a robbery, I believe. Wasn’t it?”
Julian Assange: “No. There’s no finding. So … I’m suggesting that our sources take risks.” (See also Washington Post, January 19, 2017)

But … but … that was Russian hacking, wasn’t it? Not a leak, right?

If you’ve been paying attention over the years, you know that many other murders have been attributed to the Clintons, beginning in Arkansas. But Bill and Hillary I’m sure are not guilty of all of them. (Google “murders connected clintons.”)

America’s frightening shortage of weapons 


President Trump signed an executive order Friday to launch what he called “a ‘great rebuilding of the Armed Forces’ that is expected to include new ships, planes, weapons and the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”4

This is something regularly advocated by American military and civilian leaders.

I ask them all the same question: Can you name a foreign war that the United States has ever lost due to an insufficient number of ships, planes, tanks, bombs, guns, or ammunition, or nuclear arsenal? Or because what they had was outdated, against an enemy with more modern weapons?

That tired old subject

Senator Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s pick for Attorney General, declared two years ago:

“Ultimately, freedom of speech is about ascertaining the truth. And if you don’t believe there’s a truth, you don’t believe in truth, if you’re an utter secularist, then how do we operate this government? How can we form a democracy of the kind I think you and I believe in … I do believe that we are a nation that, without God, there is no truth, and it’s all about power, ideology, advancement, agenda, not doing the public service.”5

So … if one is an atheist or agnostic one is not inclined toward public service. This of course is easily disproved by all the atheists and agnostics who work for different levels of government and numerous non-profit organizations involved in all manner of social, poverty, peace and environmental projects.

Who is the more virtuous – the believer who goes to church and does good deeds because he hopes to be rewarded by God or at least not be punished by God, or the non-believer who lives a very moral life because it disturbs him to act cruelly and it is in keeping with the kind of world he wants to help create and live in? Remember, the God-awful (no pun intended) war in Iraq was started by a man who goes through all the motions of a very religious person.

Christopher Hitchens, in 2007, in response to conservative columnist Michael Gerson’s article, “What Atheists Can’t Answer”, wrote:

“How insulting is the latent suggestion of his position: the appalling insinuation that I would not know right from wrong if I was not supernaturally guided by a celestial dictatorship … simply assumes, whether or not religion is metaphysically ‘true’, that at least it stands for morality. … Here is my challenge. Let Gerson name one ethical statement made or one ethical action performed by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.”

Gerson, it should be noted, was the chief speechwriter for the aforementioned very religious person, George W. Bush, for five years, including when Bush invaded Iraq.

Phil Ochs

I was turning the pages of the Washington Post’s Sunday (January 29) feature section, Outlook, not finding much of particular interest, when to my great surprise I was suddenly hit with a long story about Phil Ochs. Who’s Phil Ochs? many of you may ask, for the folksinger died in 1976 at the age of 35.

The Post’s motivation in devoting so much space to a symbol of the American anti-war left appears to be one more example of the paper’s serious displeasure with Donald Trump. The article is entitled “Phil Ochs is the obscure ’60s folk singer we need today”.

My favorite song of his, among many others, is “I ain’t marching anymore”:

Oh I marched to the battle of New Orleans
At the end of the early British war
The young land started growing
The young blood started flowing
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore

For I’ve killed my share of Indians
In a thousand different fights
I was there at the Little Big Horn
I heard many men lying, I saw many more dying
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore

It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with the saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all?

For I stole California from the Mexican land
Fought in the bloody Civil War
Yes I even killed my brothers
And so many others
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore

For I marched to the battles of the German trench
In a war that was bound to end all wars
Oh I must have killed a million men
And now they want me back again
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore

For I flew the final mission in the Japanese sky
Set off the mighty mushroom roar
When I saw the cities burning I knew that I was learning That I ain’t marchin’ anymore

Now the labor leader’s screamin’
when they close the missile plants,
United Fruit screams at the Cuban shore,
Call it “Peace” or call it “Treason,”
Call it “Love” or call it “Reason,”
But I ain’t marchin’ any more,
No, I ain’t marchin’ any more

Ironically, very ironically, Donald Trump may well be less of a war monger than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

1. Washington Post, January 13, 2017
2. Agence French Presse, January 4, 2016
3. NPR, January 9, 2017
4. Washington Post, January 28, 2017
5. The Daily Beast, January 12, 2017, reporting on remark made November 14, 2014 

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to is provided.

← Issue #147

A Liberal Dose of Nostalgia: Pining for the Good-Old Days at the Guardian

A dangerous nostalgia for the pre-Trump order

by Jonathan Cook

4 February 2017

It is not often I recommend a Jonathan Freedland column, but this one is interesting in the way it reveals, mostly inadvertently, what is bad and what helpful about a Trump White House. As Freedland notes, the more we learn about Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon, the more dangerous this administration seems. Bannon apparently believes in,

The Fourth Turning, which argues that human history moves in 80- to 100-year cycles, each one climaxing in a violent cataclysm that destroys the old order and replaces it with something new.

For the US, there have been three such upheavals: the founding revolutionary war that ended in 1783, the civil war of the 1860s and the second world war of the 1940s. According to the book, America is on the brink of another. …

“We’re at war” is a favourite Bannon slogan, whether it’s the struggle against jihadism, which Bannon describes as “a global existential war” that may turn into “a major shooting war in the Middle East”, or the looming clash with China.

Trump’s threatened new world order is testing the very limits of liberal complacency. Freedland’s admission in this column of his overriding conservatism and his nostalgia for the neoliberal, corporate world that brought forth the monstrous Trump reveals quite how circular his thinking is – and, for that matter, always was.

Freedland has been cheerleader-in-chief at the Guardian of the “Great American Democracy” for nearly three decades, beginning with his posting to Washington. Despite his protests now, he and other liberals made very little noise against the slow erosion of civil rights in the US and the accretion of powers to the security state, especially under Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

The gradual reversal in recent times of the democratic gains made in the US during the 1950s and 1960s have gone largely unremarked by the liberal punditocracy. But it was these very reversals that created, first, the political and media climate Trump exploited to win power and, second, the national security infrastructure he will exploit to entrench his rule against opponents.

From these first weeks, it seems that Trump is committed to kicking down the old order, creating a Darwinian survival of the fittest nations in which he thinks the US, or at least his inner circle, will emerge triumphant. That risks wars far closer to home than we in Europe and the US would like. We have preferred our wars, care of more liberal presidents, to be distant, out of view.

What is needed now are radical left ideas that challenge Trump’s radical right ideas. Freedland’s hankering for return to the status quo – the incremental plunder of the national coffers by the mega-rich, covert class war, a mostly low-level global “war on terror” that benefits only the military-industrial complex, lip service to tackling a climate change already in overdrive, all obfuscated by the corporate media of which he is part – is not a recipe either for humankind’s survival or for preventing another, even worse Trump figure emerging further down the line.

This has to be the test for the coming protests against the Trump administration. Marching with placards demanding, like Freedland, a return to where we were before Trump burst forth on to the scene, simply adds fuel to the alt-right’s funeral pyre.

This is no time for a longing to bring back the discredited old order. What we need now is fire in the belly of the left, a burning desire for real change, for social justice, not a simmering resentment that the privileges enjoyed by Freedland and his liberal colleagues are under threat.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Canada's Not So Nice Record in Syria

Syria and the Refugee Crisis: Canada Feigns Humanitarianism Yet Supports Barbarism

by Mark Taliano - Global Research

February 2, 2017

Recently, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote on Facebook and twitter,

To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith … Diversity is our strength.

The rhetoric obscures the fact that whereas Canada seeks to present itself as a Saviour to refugees, the reality is that Canada’s criminal foreign policies are creating the refugees in the first place.

Canada and its allies have stuck a knife into Syria, and they are vainly trying to decapitate its leadership — using proxy terrorists — and as cover they are cleaning up the blood from the wounded target, and pretending that they are saviours.

No, accepting refugees is not the solution. Ending the war and the illegal sanctions are the answer.

A study by The Lancet titled “Syria: end sanctions and find a political solution to peace” indicates that by the end of 2014, the cost of illegal sanctions imposed on Syria stood at US $143.8 billion and that 80 per cent of the population was living in poverty.

Moreover, in “National Agenda for the Future of Syria”, Dr. Justine Walker explains that “the combined effect of comprehensive, unilateral sanctions, terrorist concerns and the ongoing security environment have created immense hurdles for those engaged in delivering immediate humanitarian aid and wider stabilization programmes.”

But of course Canada is currently interesting in destabilizing Syria rather than stabilizing Syria, so the “hurdles” mentioned by Walker are intentional. Canada’s publicly announced goal is to impose illegal “government change” on Syria, and to do so it is part of an orchestrated plan to “destabilize” Syria. Destabilization means “destroy”. Canada is actively trying to destroy Syria with its support for terrorists and its support for illegal sanctions.

Syrian Hospital Director, Dr. Munir Rothman explained the on-the-ground results of unilateral illegal sanctions against Syria:

“We have seen the photos of Omran. It is sad, but there are many more Omrans. We have seen the maggots under the skin of injured children simply because of a lack of basic medical supplies. Children are dying from simple milk shortages in certain areas ….” Importantly , he added that,

MSF (Doctors without Borders) supply nothing at all for government hospitals. I have colleagues in Europe who tried to raise funds for our hospital. They are not allowed to do so, yet doctors who support the so-called “rebels” have no such restrictions imposed on them.

Sanctions are so comprehensive, that they even restrict Syrian hospital attempts to replace equipment. Investigative reporter Vanessa Beeley explained in a Facebook commentary that, “Thanks to the US/EU sanctions it is becoming almost impossible to replace equipment. Research facilities have stopped altogether. Banks in France that worked with the hospital (University Hospital, Latakia) prior to 2011 will be sanctioned by the US if any medical equipment is allowed into Syria from France.”

If Canada were to lift its criminal sanctions against Syria, then Canada would be taking a first step towards being part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Instead of furthering the causes of peace and justice, however, criminal Western mainstream media outlets will likely continue to accept the government’s degenerate lies and distortions, Canada’s fake “left/progressives” will continue to embrace the toxic narratives, and the only one’s providing a real solution to the on-going tragedy will continue to be Syria and its allies.

Tulsi Gabbard Video:

The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Mark Taliano, Global Research, 2017

The Torturers Return

Return of the Torturers: Back to the Crime Scenes of the Past

by Melvin Goodman - CounterPunch

February 3, 2017

The Trump administration has signaled that it is willing to return to the heinous crimes of the past two decades, including torture and abuse, secret prisons, and extraordinary renditions. The appointment of Gina Haspel as the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency clearly indicates that the use of torture, including the use of waterboarding, which has been endorsed by the President, the national security advisor, and the CIA director, could once again be a major part of the U.S. campaign against international terrorism.

Haspel was a central figure in the CIA’s criminal behavior during the Bush administration. She ran the CIA’s first secret prison in Thailand, where the brutal interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri took place. No intelligence was gleaned from the use of torture in these interrogations.

When the head of the Counterterrorism Center, Jose Rodriguez, ordered the destruction of the videotapes of the torture, it was Haspel who drafted the cable that ordered the destruction. This was clearly evidence of obstruction of justice in view of the investigation of torture and abuse that had already begun.

When former CIA director John Brennan tried to make Haspel the deputy director for operations in 2013, the chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, blocked her assignment. Currently, the Senate intelligence committee is under the stewardship of Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), who has blocked all attempts to circulate Feinstein’s authoritative account of the CIA torture program. And the current CIA director, Mike Pompeo, does not even believe that waterboarding is an act of torture and has referred to those who conducted waterboarding as “patriots.”

Haspel was also a leading voice for extraordinary renditions, which involved the “capture” or kidnapping of individuals suspected of acts of terrorism. When the CIA concluded that these victims had no important information to reveal, they were turned over to foreign intelligence services, such as those in Syria and Jordan, that conducted their own methods of torture and abuse.

Nevertheless, the New York Times refers to the promotion for Haspel as an example of the CIA’s “ambivalent attitude” toward torture and abuse because former intelligence officials, such as intelligence tsar James Clapper and acting director Michael Morell, have praised the appointment. But Clapper has been known to lie to the Senate intelligence committee about the massive surveillance program of the National Security Agency, and Morell used his own book to lie about the so-called intelligence that was gleaned from so-called “extraordinary interrogation techniques.”

There is no ambivalence here. This is simply one more example of the CIA promoting those officers who committed crimes on behalf of the agency. The intelligence officers who were held accountable in the Inspector General’s report on the 9/11 intelligence failure ultimately received promotions and rewards from the agency. The intelligence officers who participated in the politicization of intelligence in the 1980s similarly received promotions and rewards. And now we have another example of the “worst of the worst” at the CIA becoming the second most important official of our leading civilian intelligence agency. There is no better way to create cynicism within the intelligence community and the larger political community than to reward the very people who tarnish the moral compass of the CIA.

The title character of John le Carre’s The Honorable Schoolboy never wanted to deal with problems of ethics and morality. “Point me and I’ll march,” he said to spymaster George Smiley. “Tell me the shots, I’ll play them,” he added. Once again, the CIA is being led by officials who have never accepted or understood the Supreme Court’s 2006 decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that declared CIA’s torture program a violation of Geneva Conventions. This decision should have made those who conducted torture subject to the federal War Crimes Act. Perhaps if former president Barack Obama had sought accountability and responsibility for the crimes of torture, then we would not be witness to the return of war criminals to positions of responsibility.
Melvin A. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University. A former CIA analyst, Goodman is the author of “Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA,” “National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism,” and the forthcoming “The Path to Dissent: A Whistleblower at CIA” (City Lights Publishers, 2015). Goodman is the national security columnist for
More articles by:Melvin Goodman

Counting Down: Will There Be a Class of 2027?

Human Extinction 2026

by Robert Hunziker - Pacific Free Press

February 3, 2017

Los Angeles - Human Extinction by 2026, a controversial/questionable idea, is examined in some detail on the web site:

Within the posted article, a bright red box highlights the hypothesis: “Will Humans Be Extinct By 2026?” Of course, simply posing the question is tantamount to endorsing the conclusion in the affirmative.

Also of recent, but not directly related to the extinction article, scientists moved the infamous Doomsday Clock ahead by 30 seconds closer to midnight because of rising global nationalism and failure to confront both nuclear weapons and climate change, coincidentally as Trump takes over control of the big red button, which is mythological.

By definition, an article dealing with human extinction is highly provocative and touchy and generally dismissed as balderdash. After all, it sounds kinda crazy. Still, the named article: “Will Humans Be Extinct By 2026?” warrants serious consideration. Here’s why: The Arctic News blog is an amalgam of serious research by topnotch scientists that “speak to truth.” They endorse the distinct possibility of an extinction event that will catch humanity flat-footed. They really believe it is a serious risk. These scientists go against the grain, telling it as they see it, not pulling any punches.

Conversely, it is well known that many climate scientists have been fudging their work; edits make bad seem less bad. Otherwise, those scientists stand to lose grants and funding. This is a fact confirmed by one of the world’s leading climate scientist (mentioned in prior articles). Ipso facto, fudging data is one of the bugaboos about accurate climate science, as scientists intentionally lowball.

Assuredly, submitting the interrogatory “Will Humans Be Extinct By 2026?” suggests the existence of solid evidence. But, in general, people do not, and will not, believe it. After all, how could it be true? Therein lies the major impediment to taking steps to prevent the problems of climate change. In point of fact, there are several good ideas to ameliorate climate change, if pursued in earnest.

For example, a recent NY Times headline: China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020 (New York Times, Jan. 5, 2017).  All of which brings to mind: What if the United States spent $360 billion on renewables? That would be hugely helpful in worldwide efforts to combat climate change.

But, since the U.S. is diametrically headed the other direction, meaning a pinpoint sharp focus on fossil fuel exploration and production, which emits the CO2 that blankets the atmosphere and brings on severe global warming, what then are the facts behind the purported rendezvous with death by the year 2026?

Is the death threat by 2026 credible? And, what is the probability it happens?

The probability of a human extinction event within 10 years is 50/50, a guess! But still, it is based upon extremely severe levels of planetary stress/damage that are not widely recognized as a threat to society, i.e., global warming (off the charts, and accelerating, especially in the ocean) and massive destruction of the ecosystem, e.g., acidification of the ocean, which, over time, kills off the base of the marine food chain.

Significantly, the scientific model that leads to a conclusion that human extinction happens by 2026 is based upon facts, not fiction. Scientists simply extrapolate current data about the rate of climate change into the future. Voila, extinction is right around the corner. Ten years comes fast. Thus, the scientific modeling is credible, but the 50/50 probability is guesswork.

The following quote from the Arctic News/blog article brings this bleak issue into focus:

“The situation is dire. Little or no action is taken on climate change. Earth faces a potential temperature rise of more than 10°C or 18°F by 2026.”

Without a doubt, worldwide temp increases by 18°F essentially wipes-out global agriculture.

However, it’s worth noting that no universal consensus of opinion by scientists comes close to this prediction, not close at all. The scientific community at large believes temps will gradually rise, slowly, and manageably with human life continuing throughout the century, not by 18°F. Obviously, the Paris Agreement calls for holding temps to 2°C above pre-industrial. Thus, 195 countries are not looking for anything above 2°C. Otherwise, why select the 2°C upper limit?

Accordingly, a temperature rise of 10°C or 18°F within a decade is lights out for the human species. That’s bad news, leaving the planet to cockroaches.

The supporting facts behind the extinction thesis start with the Paris Agreement of December 12th, 2015 when 195 worldwide governments agreed to hold temps below 2°C above pre-industrial levels but doggedly pursue a lower limit of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.

Here’s the problem with the Paris Agreement: Land+Ocean temps, according to the Arctic News/blog article, for most of the year 2016 have been above the 1.5°C guardrail, in fact it’s been above that level for ten of the months from October 2015 to November 2016. Therefore, in part, the Paris Agreement is already passé; it’s too late!

Going forward, the extinction cadre scientists foresee a series of feedbacks that cascade one upon another, in turn, cranking up temps to 10°C or 18°F by 2026. It all starts with the Arctic where temps are running 2-3 times significantly ahead of the planet, shaking lose millennia-old methane buried within ice for eons that is fast melting away. Methane, in turn, is a rip-snorting tiger at heating up the atmosphere, nothing compares, as it hits full stride, commencing runaway global warming.

Alarmingly, some scientists also believe a burp of 50 gigatons of methane (CH4) could happen within the extremely shallow waters of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf at any time without notice because of the striking loss of ice cover in the Arctic. Earth’s atmosphere currently contains 5 gigatons of CH4. If the big 50-gt burp hits, it’d be a powerful shot of testosterone for the runaway global warming monster.

In turn, and aggravating matters ever more, water vapor, a very potent greenhouse gas as every 1°C warming increase equals 7% more water vapor, is goosed up, accelerating temps even more. The warmer the atmosphere becomes, the more water vapor it holds, in turn, turbo-charging global warming into a frenzy, blanketing the atmosphere and retaining heat, like an oven with the thermostat stuck wide open, hotter and hotter it goes without doing anything new.

In all, there are several feedback loops that reinforce one another, each one influencing another such that, like a whirling merry-go-round of horse carvings that spins out of control to hyper speed, features of individual horses become a whirling blur. That’s runaway global warming! Morosely, the paleoclimate record has an example of temps cranking up rapidly within only 13 years.

Fifty-five (55) million years ago, global temps increased by 5° C within 13 years; CO2 in the atmosphere was 1,000 ppm, and there was no ice on the planet (today ice is melting like crazy, irreversibly in certain areas of Antarctica, which is extremely problematic). That’s remarkable, as it should take hundreds of years, or more, for global temps to increase by 5° C, not a measly 13 years. This fact alone, as discovered by scientists studying timeless ice core and sediment, unfortunately reinforces the “Human Extinction by 2026” thesis, somewhat. But, if 5° C within 13 years is considered warp speed in paleoclimate history, and it is, then the projection of 10°C or 18°F by 2026 seems awfully aggressive. On the other hand, because of human fossil fuel activity and the massive accumulation of warming yet in the pipeline (the latency effect), it’s within the range of possibility.

Furthermore, “no ice on the planet” (55 million years ago), equates to the imagery portrayed by the film Waterworld (Universal Pictures, 1995), post-apocalyptic science fiction when polar ice caps melted. One mythological storyline in the film claims dry land exists somewhere in the world. They search for it.

If the Doomsday Clock included everything that is wrong with Gaia, like the ocean absorbing up to 90% of planetary heat, which helps considerably to hold down land temps (tricking humans into thinking global warming is not as bad as it really is), but which also has a nasty habit of reversing the heat as a reverse feedback loop into nasty ole runaway global warming, then the Doomsday Clock is only a few seconds from midnight.

That’s how dangerously close some scientists believe humanity is to extinction. Hopefully, they are dead wrong.

Alternatively, a counter-balancing course of action, the United States leads the world in renewables, but alas, Donald Trump is president and Scott Pruitt is Trump’s lead man for EPA (The Twilight Zone redux).

“Since President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970, no prospective administrator has ever fundamentally questioned science or showed broad disdain for the work of the agency. That is until Scott Pruitt’s nomination” (Trump’s EPA Pick Scott Pruitt Won’t Stand up for Science. He Never Has, The Hill, 01/31/17).

Eris, the Greek goddess of chaos, strife, and discord, has flown by, dropping her Golden Apple of Discord, aka Scott Pruitt, into the lap of the U.S. Senate.

Trump Runs Roughshod, While Democrats Seek Victory Over...Putin

Dangers of Democratic Putin-Bashing

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

February 1, 2017

The Washington establishment’s hysteria over its favorite new “group think” – that Russian President Vladimir Putin put Donald Trump in the White House – could set the stage for the Democratic Party rebranding itself as America’s “war party” alongside the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party. This political realignment – with the Democrats becoming the party of foreign interventionism and the Trump-led Republicans a more inwardly looking America First party – could be significant for the future.
President Vladimir Putin addresses crowd May 9, 2014, 
celebrating the 69th anniversary of victory over Nazi 
Germany and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of 
the Crimean port city of Sevastopol from the Nazis. 
(Russian government photo)

However, in another way, what we’re seeing is not new. It is a replay of other “group thinks” in which some foreign leader is demonized beyond all reason allowing any accusation to be lodged against him with virtually no pushback from anyone interested in maintaining a U.S. mainstream career.

We saw this pattern, for instance, in the run-up to the Iraq War when Saddam Hussein was demonized to such a degree that any accusation against him was accepted without question, such as him hiding WMDs and colluding with Al Qaeda. In that context, some individuals supposedly with “first-hand knowledge” – “Iraqi defectors” – showed up to elaborate on and personalize the anti-Saddam propaganda message. We learned only later that many were scripted by the U.S.-government-funded Iraqi National Congress.

Since 2011, we saw the same demonization treatment applied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who was depicted as a ruthless monster opposed by a “moderate opposition” which, in turn, was embraced by “human rights” groups, touted by Western media and applauded even by citizen “peace groups” around the United States and Europe. The Assad demonization obscured the fact that many “opposition” groups were part of an externally funded “regime change” project spearheaded by radical jihadists connected to Al Qaeda.

A Reagan Strategy

For me, this pattern goes back even further. I have witnessed these techniques since the 1980s when the Reagan administration tapped into CIA psychological warfare methods to rally the American people around a more interventionist foreign policy – to “kick the Vietnam Syndrome,” the public skepticism toward war that followed the Vietnam debacle.

Back then, senior CIA propagandist Walter Raymond Jr. was assigned to the National Security Council staff where he tutored young neocons, the likes of Elliott Abrams and Robert Kagan, drumming into them that the key was to personalize the propaganda by demonizing a particular leader, making him eminently worthy of hate.

Raymond counseled his acolytes that the goal was always to “glue” black hats on the side in Washington’s crosshairs and white hats on the side that Washington favored. The grays of the real world were to be avoided and any politician or journalist who sought to deal in nuance was disparaged as a fill-in-the-blank “apologist.”

So, in the 1980s, the Reagan administration targeted Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, “the dictator in designer glasses,” as President Reagan dubbed him.

In 1989, before the invasion of Panama, Gen. Manuel Noriega got the treatment. In 1990, it was Saddam Hussein’s turn, deemed “worse than Hitler” by President George H.W. Bush. During the Clinton administration, the demon du jour was Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic. In all these cases, there were legitimate criticisms of these leaders, but their evils were inflated to fantastical proportions to justify bloody military interventions by the U.S. government and its allies.

Regime Change in Moscow?

The main difference in recent years is that Official Washington’s neocons and liberal interventionists have taken aim at Russia with the goal of “regime change” in Moscow, a strategy that risks the world’s nuclear annihilation. But except for the stakes, the old script is still being followed.

Rather than a realistic assessment of what happened in Ukraine, the American people and the West in general have been fed a steady diet of propaganda. As U.S. neocons and liberal interventionists pushed for and achieved the violent overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych, he was lavishly smeared as the embodiment of corruption over such items as a sauna in his official residence. Yanukovych wore the black hat and the street fighters of the Maidan, led by ultra-nationalists and neo-Nazis, wore the white hats.

However, after Yanukovych’s unconstitutional ouster, his supporters, concentrated in Ukraine’s ethnic Russian areas, resisted the putsch. But the Western storyline was simply a Russian “invasion.” The absence of any evidence – like photos of an amphibious landing in Crimea or tanks crashing across Ukraine’s borders – didn’t seem to matter. Since Americans and Europeans had already been prepped to hate Putin, no evidence apparently was needed. The New York Times and other mainstream publications just reported any accusations as flat fact.

Even the exposure of a pre-coup phone call in which neocon U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland discussed with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who would lead the post-coup regime and how to “glue this thing” or “midwife this thing” didn’t matter either. Evidence of U.S. coup plotting wasn’t welcome because it didn’t fit the narrative of brave young Ukrainians promoting democracy by overthrowing the democratically elected leader.

Indeed, the leaked phone call, which the Western media attributed to Russian intelligence, became – rather than proof of U.S. coup plotting – an example of Moscow’s use of “kompromat” (i.e., compromising material) against the “victim,” Assistant Secretary Nuland, who was embarrassed because she had also disparaged the European Union’s lack of aggressiveness with the pithy remark, “Fuck the E.U.”

So, while many of these U.S. propaganda patterns can be traced back to Reagan and his desire to “kick the Vietnam Syndrome,” they have truly become bipartisan. Up had become down whichever party was in office with the mainstream media reinforcing the propaganda themes and deceptions.

The Trump Future

One can expect that the Trump administration will come to enjoy its own control over the levers of propaganda – especially given President Trump’s obsession with always being right no matter what the contrary evidence – but there has been some addition by subtraction in the changeover of administrations.

Many of the neocons and liberal hawks who nested in the Obama administration – people like Victoria Nuland – are gone. That at least creates the possibility for some fresh thinking on such issues as continuing the “information war” against Putin and Russia. A more realistic assessment regarding the Kremlin may be possible given the fact that Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn are not Russo-phobes and have personal experience with the Kremlin.

But the Democrats – and even progressives – appear determined to keep alive the anti-Russian hysteria that reached “group think” levels in the final weeks of the Obama administration and is now being carried forward by leading liberal organizations.

As James W. Carden reported for The Nation, “In the time between the November election and [Trump’s] inauguration, the Center for American Progress (CAP) and its president, former Hillary Clinton aide Neera Tanden, have been at the forefront of what some are calling ‘the resistance.’ Yet one troubling aspect of ‘the resistance’ seems to be its belief that Trump owes his surprise victory in the early morning hours of November 9 to the Russian government.”

Carden cited a session at CAP’s Washington headquarters at which Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Tanden hammered home the U.S. intelligence community’s still evidence-free claims that Putin ordered his intelligence services to sabotage Clinton’s campaign and help Trump. Again, details and nuance were unwelcome and unnecessary since the villains were the thoroughly demonized Putin and the widely despised (at least in Democratic circles) Trump.

But there are multiple dangers from the continuation of this propaganda narrative: the obvious one is the risk that the Washington establishment will make the Putin-Trump “guilt” a certified “group think” rather than a charge that needs careful analysis and that certitude could lead to an eventual nuclear showdown with Russia.

Democratic Delusions

Another risk, however, is that the Democrats will come to believe that Putin’s interference defeated Hillary Clinton and thus a desperately needed self-evaluation won’t happen.

Even if Putin did have his intelligence agents hack Democratic emails and then slipped them to WikiLeaks (although its founder Julian Assange and an associate, former U.K. Ambassador Craig Murray, have denied this), it is clear that the contents of the emails were legitimate and revealed some newsworthy facts about both the Democratic National Committee’s tilting the playing field against Sen. Bernie Sanders and what Clinton told Wall Street bankers in paid speeches that she was hiding from the voters. In other words, the emails weren’t disinformation; they provided real facts that the American people had a right to know before heading to the polls.

But the other key point is that these emails had little impact on the election. Even Clinton herself initially put the blame for her defeat on FBI Director James Comey for briefly reopening and then re-closing an investigation into her use of a private email server as Secretary of State. It was then that her poll numbers began to crater – and Putin had nothing to do with either her reckless decision to conduct State Department business through her private email server or Comey’s decisions regarding the investigation.

But the blame-Putin diversion has enabled the national Democratic Party to avoid reexamining its own contributions to Trump’s Electoral College victory, particularly its insistence on nominating Clinton despite many polls showing her high unfavorable numbers and a widespread recognition that 2016 was an anti-establishment year. The Democratic Party put on blinders to ignore the grave vulnerabilities of its candidate and the sour mood of the electorate.

In a larger sense, the Democratic Party ignored its own reputation as a home for internationalists, elitists and interventionists. Indeed, Clinton chose to cater to the neocons who are very influential in Official Washington but carry little weight in Middle America. Then, she made things worse by insulting many white blue-collar Americans as “deplorables.”

Yet, instead of conducting a thorough autopsy of their demise – sinking into minority status in Congress and across the country – the Democrats apparently think they can whistle past their political graveyard by blaming their defeat on Putin and by building a movement based on attacking Trump’s erratic and offensive behavior, very similar to the failed strategy that Clinton employed last fall.

Not only does this negative strategy threaten again to backfire but – by feeding into a new and dangerous Cold War – it risks tying the Democrats to conflict and militarism and letting the Trump Republicans position themselves as the alternatives to endless and escalating wars.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

Rattling Iran's Cage: Trump Follows the Worn Route to War

Lies Promote Trump's Economic War Against Iran 


February 3, 2017

Trump's National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's accusation that Iran's ballistic missile test violated a UN resolution is not backed by any evidence, and Press Secretary Spicer's allegation of an Iranian attack on a U.S. ship is a complete fabrication - Paul Jay interviews Ben Norton.

Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet's Grayzone Project, where he writes primarily about U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East. He was previously a staff writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton. 

US Immigration Ban Order Draws Academic Fire in Canada

Regarding the Executive Order issued by the US President Donald Trump on 27 January 2017

Message from the Executive Committee of the Canadian Communication Association (CCA)

February 2, 2017

(Le français suit)

The Canadian Communication Association (CCA) stands in solidarity with those calling for the annulment of US President Donald Trump’s January 27, 2017 Executive Order, limiting entry into the United States for citizens, legal immigrants, travelers, and refugees.

The CCA is Canada's leading scholarly association for academics and other researchers working in media and communication studies, journalism, and cultural studies. We are deeply troubled by this action and view it as running counter to the respect of human values, fomenting racial and religious intolerance, and damaging lives. CCA recognises that the ban likewise adversely and inequitably affects our peers.

Some fellow scholars will not be able to attend conferences because of their citizenship, possibly their social media activities, or simply because they no longer feel safe crossing the border. As a domestic association with international membership we join our colleagues from academic communities across the world in denouncing this order.

We invite our members to sign the online petition of Academics Against Immigration Executive Order at

The Executive Committee of the Canadian Communication Association

Daniel J. Paré, President and Interim Treasurer, University of Ottawa

Mary Francoli, Vice President, Carleton University

Mél Hogan, Secretary, University of Calgary

Sibo Chen, Student Representative, Simon Fraser University

Enda Brophy, Member at Large, Simon Fraser University

Nadège Broustau, Member at Large, Université du Québec à Montréal

Fenwick McKelvey, Member at Large, Concordia University

Jaqueline McLeod Rogers, Member at Large, University of Winnipeg

Christine Quail, Member at Large, McMaster University

Nathan Rambukkana, Member at Large, Wilfrid Laurier University

Gregory Taylor, Member at Large, University of Calgary

Andrea Zeffiro, Member at Large, McMaster University

Message du Comité exécutif de l’Association canadienne de communication (CCA) concernant le décret émis par le Président des États-Unis, Donald Trump, le 27 janvier 2017

L’Association canadienne de communication (ACC) tient à exprimer sa solidarité avec ceux qui réclament le retrait du décret émis par le Président des États-Unis, Donald Trump, le 27 janvier 2017. Le décret limite l’entrée au pays de citoyens, d’immigrants en règle, de voyageurs et de réfugiés. L’ACC est la principale association de recherche pour les universitaires et autres chercheurs dans les domaines des études de la communication et des médias, du journalisme et des études culturelles ( Nous sommes profondément troublés par cette mesure et nous la considérons comme contraire au respect des valeurs humaines, pouvant inciter l’intolérance raciale et religieuse, et ayant des effets dommageables sur la vie des personnes touchées. L’ACC reconnaît que les restrictions migratoires américaines affectent également et inéquitablement nos collègues. Des chercheurs ne pourront assister à des conférences à cause de leur nationalité, peut-être de leurs activités sur les médias sociaux, ou simplement parce qu’ils ne se sentent plus en sécurité au moment de traverser la frontière. En tant qu’association nationale avec des membres dans différents pays, nous joignons notre voix à celles de collègues des milieux universitaires à travers le monde pour dénoncer ce décret..

Nous invitons nos membres à signer la pétition en ligne de Academics Against Immigration Executive Order :

Le comité exécutif de l’Association canadienne de communication

Daniel J. Paré, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor / Professeur agrégé
Department of Communication, School of Information Studies (ÉSIS) and
Institute for Science, Society and Policy (ISSP)
University of Ottawa / Université d’Ottawa
55 Laurier Ave East, Rm 10154, Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N5, Canada

President / Président
Canadian Communication Association /
Association canadienne de communication

Thursday, February 02, 2017

No Safe Haven: Trump Syria Plan a Disaster in Waiting

Trump Bull in the Mideast China Shop

by Eric Margolis

January 28, 2017

President Donald Trump is getting ready to plunge into the burning Mideast with all the zeal and arrogance of a medieval crusader. The new administration’s knowledge of the region is a thousand miles wide and two inches deep.

Reviving a truly terrible idea originated by know-nothing Congressional Republicans, Trump proposes US-run safe zones in Syria for refugees from that nation’s conflict. The president went out of his way to insist that such safe zones would spare the United States from having to shelter Syrian refugees.

He should better worry about Chicago where 762 citizens were murdered last year.

At the same time, Trump, declaiming from his new Mount Olympus of New York’s Trump Tower, vowed to impose a 30-day halt on immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to ‘protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals.’

One wonders if any of Trump’s Praetorian Guard noticed that all these listed ‘terrorist’ nations have been attacked by the United States or seen their governments overthrown by Uncle Sam. I’m surprised Afghanistan and Pakistan were left off the list. Their time will likely come soon. Is it any wonder that all of these Muslim nations bear a serious grudge against the United States? The angriest group is ISIS, who are seeking revenge for the destruction of Iraq.

Former President Barack Obama shied away from direct military intervention in Syria, preferring stealthy warfare, drones and hit squads. He had the sense to know that US military intervention in the heart of the Mideast would be fraught with danger, not the least clashes between US and Russian forces. History shows it’s easy to invade into unstable areas but hard to get out.

But not so for bull in the Mideast china shop Trump as he charges into the Levant, advised by generals who made a mess in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Trump’s ardently pro-Israel cabinet must be rubbing their hands in glee as they see Syria in his cross hairs. The destruction of Syria’s regime and fragmenting that nation is an Israeli strategic priority.

One wishes Trump would stop for a moment and reflect. There are 11 million Syrian refugees in Syria and neighboring states. They are the result of a civil war engineered by Washington, Turkey, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia, with France and Britain playing a supporting role. Western money, arms and supplies have fueled the six-year old conflict whose aim was to overthrow Syria’s Assad government because he is an ally of Iran.

The US and France did exactly the same thing in Libya, overthrowing its leader, Muammar Khadaffi, and murdering him – thank you Hillary Clinton. The US invaded and destroyed Iraq, tore apart Somalia and neighboring Sudan, and is now providing warplanes, bombs and mercenary advisors that Saudi Arabia – the patron of the jihadi forces in Syria – is using to crush little Yemen.

The largest number of Mideast refugees are now in Syria, thank you Uncle Sam, and its neighbors, Jordan and Lebanon. The second biggest group are the 5.2 million Palestinian refugees scattered across the Levant. Iraq is awash with internal refugees, thank you George W. Bush. Add now a couple of million refugees from strife-torn South Sudan, a new failed nation created by blundering US Mideast policy as a way of punishing disobedient Sudan, thank Bush and Obama.

At the same time, Washington must avoid any and all risk of military clashes in Syria with Russia. We can’t keep huffing and puffing that Moscow has no business in Syria when it’s as close to southern Russia as northern Mexico is to Texas. The US has troops and bases across the globe, most lately in Africa. Who are we to tell Russia to get out of Syria?

Just when it seemed that the Syrian conflict was beginning to simmer down, Trump’s intervention will be certain to heat up the conflict and undermine potential peace agreements. In case there are still Muslims who believed the US is their friend, as was the case fifty years ago, they will now understand that America is their enemy thanks to Trump’s ham-handed, ‘no Muslims’ policies.

Muslims account for 23% of the world’s population and will surpass Christians in about four decades. Besides riling up the Chinese, is it really wise to antagonize and insult members of Islam, the world’s fast-growing religion? And single out Muslims as most likely to face torture? Bad idea.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2017

Capitalist Blob Threatens Pacific Ocean (and the World)

Plastic and Capitalism Are Killing Ocean Life

by Yves Engler - Dissident Voice

January 31st, 2017

For 21st century capitalism the more disposable the better. Ocean life and human health be damned.

According to a recent Ellen MacArthur Foundation study, the world’s oceans are set to have more plastic than fish by 2050. At the current rate of production and disposal the net weight of plastic in the oceans will be greater than that of fish in a little over three decades.

There are currently 150 million tonnes of plastic debris floating in the world’s oceans. Most of it takes centuries to break down. Thousands of large animals – such as turtles and birds – die every year from indigestible plastic debris in the ocean. Millions of other sea creatures suffer when they consume plastic.

The Canada-US Great Lakes – the largest freshwater ecosystem in the world – have also accumulated large amounts of plastic. A study released in December concluded that almost 22 million pounds of plastic debris are dumped into the Great Lakes annually. Microplastics in the lakes “act like sponges for certain pollutants and are easily ingested by aquatic organisms, including fish and shellfish, which may ultimately end up on our plates.”

During the second half of the 20th century plastic production rose 20 fold and it’s on pace to double over the next two decades. More plastic was produced during the first decade of the 21st century than in all of the 20th.

Approximately half of plastic is for single use. Some 70 billion plastic bottles and 1 trillion plastic bags are produced every year globally. The first disposable plastic pop bottle was produced in 1975 and the first plastic grocery bag was introduced a few years earlier.

Before wreaking havoc on ocean fauna, plastics also harm human health. In 2014 Mother Jones published an expose titled “Are any plastics safe?” It noted, “almost all commercially available plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens—even when they weren’t exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun’s ultraviolet rays.” The Mother Jones story draws a parallel between the plastic and tobacco industries.

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act provides the federal government with a tool to restrict toxic substances while Environment Canada operates a scientific review to test for possible harm. Yet few plastic products have been outlawed.

Controversy over the use of BPA (bisphenol A) in baby bottles and some toys prompted the federal government to ban use of this chemical in baby bottles but BPA is still used in other plastics. Similarly, in 2010 the government announced it was banning Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) flame retardants, which have been linked to cancer and other health ailments, but it didn’t outlaw the toxins from new plastic consumer items such as TVs until December and continues to allow PBDEs to be used in manufacturing items.

The toxins in plastics should be better regulated. Plastics can also be made less damaging by producing them from waste products and improving their decomposition. Additionally, measures to promote recycling are necessary. But, as Ian Angus points out, recycling is often a way for the industry to divert “attention away from the production of throwaway plastics to individual consumer behavior—the ‘solutions’ they promote involve cleaning up or recycling products that never should have been made in the first place.”

To that end activists have pressed universities to stop selling plastic bottles and for cities to restrict free plastic bags. While helpful, these efforts are overwhelmed by an economic system enthralled to wasteful consumption.

Based on externalizing costs and privatizing profits, 21st-century capitalism is turning our seas into a plastic blob.
Yves Engler is the author of Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation.
Read other articles by Yves.

Investigating the Umm al-Hiran Deaths' Dubious Official Narrative

Police lied to me over Umm al-Hiran deaths

by Jonathan Cook

2 February 2017

Speaking to me for my report last month on the killing by police of Yacoub Abu al-Qiyan during the demolition of his home in Umm al-Hiran, in the Negev, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld made three allegations against Abu al-Qiyan that he said proved he was a terrorist. All of them have now been shown to be entirely unfounded.

A fourth claim, made against Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List and the most senior politician among Israel’s 1.7 million Palestinian citizens, has also proved to be untrue.

The Israeli police appear to have been caught out as serial liars. Rosenfeld himself may have not known that he was peddling lies. He may have been simply reading from a script. But others surely knew. Not only did they wilfully mislead journalists, but they dangerously incited against Israel’s large Palestinian minority.

(This would be far from the first time. Only recently, the police, as well as prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accused Palestinian citizens of waging an “arson intifada” against Israel in November, when hundreds of fires broke out due to exceptional weather conditions. All of the dozens of Palestinians arrested over the fires were subsequently released, but no apology or retraction has been issued.)

First, Rosenfeld told me Abu al-Qiyan had carried out a deliberate “car-ramming terror attack” on police, which killed one officer. But a police aerial video of the incident shows that police opened fire on the car while Abu al-Qiyan was driving slowly and cautiously to leave his home before the demolition crew began work.

Further, leaks of an autopsy report show that Abu al-Qiyan was shot twice, in the torso and the knee, strongly suggesting that he lost control of the car as he tried to navigate carefully down a steep dirt track. If anyone is responsible for the death of the police officer, Erez Levy, it is his colleagues who opened fire without provocation.

Of equal concern should be the fact that Abu al-Qiyan was left for up to half an hour to bleed to death, while police denied an ambulance access to his village.

Second, Rosenfeld told me that Abu al-Qiyan’s terrorist intent was discernible because, even though the incident occurred before dawn, he had turned off his headlights to avoid detection. But a new video shows his car lights were on, just as one would have expected.

Third, Rosenfeld told me police had definitive proof that Abu al-Qiyan was a supporter of ISIS, and that the evidence would soon be divulged. But two weeks later Israel’s domestic intelligence service, the Shin Bet, have provided no evidence of such a link. All his family deny that he supported ISIS, or even that he held strong political views.

And fourth, Rosenfeld denied Knesset member Ayman Odeh’s claim that police fired a potentially lethal sponge-tipped bullet at his head. Rosenfeld said instead that the Knesset member’s injuries had been caused by stones thrown by the inhabitants of Umm al-Hiran opposing the dozen or so demolitions police were carrying out. Another police spokesperson told the Israeli Maariv newspaper that the police did not even have sponge-tipped bullets in their armoury.

There were multiple problems with that account. Witnesses say there was no stone-throwing at the time Odeh was injured. And the Knesset member is photographed (above) holding the bullet in Umm al-Hiran, after he was shot. There is also a picture (below) of a huge bruise across his back, where he was shot a second time. It is hard to imagine how that injury was caused apart from by an impact with some form of rubber bullet.

And, whatever the police claim, there are well-documented instances of Israeli police using sponge-tipped bullets before, especially in East Jerusalem, but also in the Negev. The shocking thing in this case is that they used these bullets against a Palestinian Knesset member.

Interestingly, when challenged by another journalist, Mairav Zonszein, Rosenfeld denied that he had said Odeh was hit by stones, only that: “During the incident stones were thrown.” Well, my notes from our conversation show him clearly stating that Odeh’s head injury was caused by a stone.

It is past time for the police and the government ministers who for two weeks have incited against Abu al-Qiyan, against the inhabitants of Umm al-Hiran and more generally against Israel’s Palestinian citizens to issue an apology for their serial lies and distortions.

It is also essential that the government set up an independent, judicial-led inquiry to assess what really happened in Umm al-Hiran on the morning of January 18.

BC Hydro Celebrates World Wetlands Day with Schemes to Destroy Wetlands

BC Hydro slated to destroy critical wetland in the Peace Valley starting on World Wetlands Day

by Peace Valley Environment Association

February 2, 2017

Fort St. John, BCToday is World Wetlands Day and BC Hydro is set to begin logging on a stretch of the Peace River Valley that includes a significant wetland, in preparation for the Site C dam reservoir.

The reservoir wouldn’t be filled until the end of the construction period in 2024, so various organizations are asking BC Hydro to consider delaying destruction of the wetland until much later in the project timeline.

Ken Forest, former Fort St. John biology teacher and school principal noted that the destruction of Watson’s Slough would be a great loss to children from the local area,

“For decades, Watson’s Slough has been used to educate local school children to learn about birds, ducks, vegetation, fish and amphibians.” 

The school program was supported by Ducks Unlimited and the Peace River Regional District.

According to Forest, Watson’s Slough is a rare and well-situated wetland that various classes of school kids from grades 3 to 7, come to by bus during the month of June. The kids were provided with opportunities to dip nets in the slough, examine the living things they found in the pond water, walk the shoreline to learn about the diversity of vegetation and learn to identify different species of ducks through spotting scopes.

Trumpeter swans and several neotropical birds use the Peace River Valley as migratory path, stopping at weltand areas to feed. According to a report by Chillborne Environmental, these birds need undisturbed corridors to connect them with their breeding in secluded wetlands, such as Watson’s Slough.

In their submission to the Environmental Assessment process, Environment Canada notes that three-quarters of BC’s 247 bird species use the Peace region; of which 32 are ‘at risk’, including the Canada Warbler and Common Nighthawk, both of which are seen at Watson’s Slough. Further, the Joint Review Panel scientists stated that the Site C dam would cause significant adverse effects on migratory birds which cannot be mitigated.

Pushing ahead with construction of the Site C dam continues to be controversial. Many across the province continue to defend that valley and are hopeful that a new provincial government will ensure that the independent public watchdog, the British Columbia Utilities Commission, will be given the opportunity to thoroughly assess Site C as was strongly recommended by the Joint Review Panel and frequently reinforced by its former chair, Dr. Harry Swain.

“The school children could never learn from a book what they do by spending a day at Watson’s Slough,” stated Forest.



For more information:

Andrea Morison, Coordinator,
Peace Valley Environment Association,

Andrea Morison, BA, MA
Peace Valley Environment Association
PO Box 6062
Fort St. John, BC V1J 4H6

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

A Siting on a Hill: Trump's New Jerusalem

Clamoring for Israeli Approval: Trump’s Election Promises Will Haunt Him

by Ramzy Baroud  -

February 1, 2017

US President Donald Trump promises to be pro-Israel in every aspect.

‘I'm the best thing that could ever happen to Israel,’ he boasted at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Presidential Forum in Washington DC, in December, 2015.

For a brief moment, Trump appeared as if rethinking his unconditional support for Israel, when in February 2016, the Republican presidential nominee pledged ‘neutrality’ between Palestinians and Israelis.

“Let me be sort of a neutral guy,” he said during an MSNBC town hall meeting.

Since then, this position has been surpassed by the most regressive rhetoric, beginning with his speech before the Israeli lobby (AIPAC) conference, the following month.

As for Israel, its expectations of the US President are very clear: unconditional financial and military support, blank check to expand illegal settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank and an end to any form of political ‘pressure’ through attempting to revive the so-called ‘peace process’.

Not that Trump has had any qualms with these expectations. The real challenge was that his main rival, Hillary Clinton, was an unprecedentedly ardent supporter of Israel.

She was completely brazen in her groveling before the pro-Israel lobby.

Reflecting on the death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, she told Jewish leaders, “When he spoke, to me it was like listening to a psalm, and I loved sitting and listening to him whether it was about Israel, the nation he loved and did so much to defend, or about peace or just about life itself.”

She promised them to “protect Israel from de-legitimization”, as reported in the Israeli newspaper, ‘Haaretz’ - ‘De-legitimization’ meaning the attempts by civil society groups around the world to boycott Israel for failing to respect international law and the rights of occupied Palestinians.

This is the kind of political landscape that Trump, essentially a businessman not a politician, needed to navigate. In a foray of hasty moves, he has agreed to give Israel what it sought, but going even further than any other US president in modern history by promising to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

It was a clever move at the time, enough to match Clinton’s love offerings for Israel and make Trump the darling of Israel’s rightwing politicians, who now control the government.
The fall-out of that promise, if implemented, however, will prove very costly.

If Trump goes through with this, he is likely to unleash chaos in an already volatile region.

The move, which is now reportedly in the ‘beginning stages’, is not merely a symbolic one, as some have reported in western mainstream media.

Trump, known for his impulsive nature, is threatening to eradicate even the little common sense that historically governed US foreign policy conduct in the Middle East.

Jerusalem was occupied in two different stages, first by Zionist militias in 1948 and then, by the Israeli army in 1967.

Understanding the centrality of Jerusalem to the whole region, British colonialists who had won a League of Nation mandate over Palestine in 1922, were keen for Jerusalem to remain an international hub.

Israel, however, took the city by force, referencing some self-serving interpretation of biblical text that supposedly designates Jerusalem as the ‘eternal’ capital of the Jewish people.

In 1980, Israel officially annexed Jerusalem in violation of international law to the dismay of the international community that has continually rejected and condemned Israeli occupation.

Even countries that are considered allies of Israel - including the United States - reject Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and refuse the Israeli invitation to relocate their embassies from Tel Aviv to the illegally-occupied city.

Yet, since 1995, the US position has vacillated between the historically pro-Israel US Congress and the equally pro-Israel, but more pragmatic White House.

In October 1995, the US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act. The Act was passed by an overwhelming majority in both the House and Senate. It called Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel and urged the State Department to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

US administrations under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have signed a presidential waiver that deferred the Congressional bill, six months at a time.

The last time the waiver was signed by former President Obama was on December 1, 2016.
Now, the opportunistic real-estate mogul enters the White House with an alarming agenda that looks identical to that of the current Israeli government of right-wingers and ultra-nationalists.

"We have now reached the point where envoys from one country to the other could almost switch places," wrote Palestinian Professor, Rashid Khalidi, in the ‘New Yorker’.

This comes at the worst possible time, as new bills are springing up in the Israeli Knesset to annex even the Jewish settlements rendered illegal by Israel’s own definitions, and to remove any restriction on new settlement construction and expansion.

Over the course of just a few days following Trump’s inauguration, the Israeli government has ordered the construction of thousands of new housing units in Occupied Jerusalem.

Even traditional allies of the US and Israel are alarmed by the grim possibilities resulting from the nascent Trump-Israel alliance.

Speaking to the Paris peace conference on January 15, French Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, warned Trump about the "very serious consequences" that await in case the US embassy is, in fact, moved to Jerusalem.

Palestinians and Arabs understand that moving the embassy is far from being a symbolic move, but a carte blanche to complete the Israeli takeover of the city - including its holy sites - and complete the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Muslims and Christians.

The Trump administration’s gamble in moving the US embassy is likely to ignite a political fire throughout Palestine and the Middle East with horrific and irreversible outcomes.

Considering the significance of Jerusalem to Palestinian Muslims and Christians, and hundreds of millions of believers around the world, Trump might, indeed, be igniting a powder keg that would further derail his already embattled presidency.

In a recent interview with ‘Fox News’, Trump restated the tired jargon of how ‘badly’ Israel has been treated and that relations between Washington and Tel Aviv have been ‘repaired.’
But he then refused to talk about moving the embassy because “it’s too early.”

This might be his way of back-tracking in order to avert a crisis. It is a downgraded position from that stated by his senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, who had recently stated that moving the embassy is a 'very big priority.'

Even if the embassy move is delayed, the danger still remains, as Jewish settlements are now growing exponentially, thus compromising the status of the city.

The fact is that Trump’s lack of clear foreign policy that aims at creating stability -not rash decisions to win lobby approval - is a dangerous political strategy.

He wants to reverse the legacy of his predecessor, yet has no legacy of his own, which is the very formula needed to invite more violence and to push an already volatile region further into the abyss.

- Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of His books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and his latest “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is

Little Britain's Littler Leadership

On Brexit, What a Pathetic, Leaderless Country We Have Become

by Andy Worthington


In America and around the world, the apocalyptic nightmare of Donald Trump and his administration is provoking widespread protest.

In the UK, meanwhile, as deluded nationalists led by the Prime Minister Theresa May forge ahead with pushing for our departure from the EU as a result of last June’s narrow victory for the Leave campaign in an advisory referendum in which 27.9% of the electorate couldn’t even be bothered to vote, almost no one is standing up for the 16.1 million people — myself included — who voted for Remain.

It is as if, at a general election, the party that wins gets the right to prevent the opposition from criticising them at all, and also gets to completely ignore everything that those who voted for the opposition believes, when it contradicts what the winning party thinks.

How is this possible? The wretched referendum, whose outcome was not legally binding, was so blunt and inadequate a tool that it failed to specify what leaving the EU would entail, or, indeed, whether that would be acceptable to voters. And yet, under Theresa May and her three Brexiteers — David Davis, Boris Johnson and Liam Fox — no questions about the form Brexit might take — let alone whether it might not be a good idea to accept the result of an advisory referendum that might end up being economically suicidal — was allowed.

With the blackest irony, our leaders, defending a referendum that was supposed to restore sovereignty to the UK, spent months fighting to prevent that. Sovereignty in the UK resides in Parliament, not in the whims of the Prime Minister and her Cabinet, and yet the increasingly unhinged May and her Brexiteer clowns fought in court to prevent Parliament from having any say, appealing to the Supreme Court when the High Court reminded them what sovereignty means, and losing for a second and final time last week, after wasting nearly three months that could have been productively spent discussing what Brexit actually means.

In response to the Supreme Court ruling, the petulant government then issued a derisory bill, the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (HC Bill 132), containing just two clauses and 137 words, scheduling just two days for MPs to discuss it (yesterday and today, culminating in a vote), and three days in the committee and report stages before it goes back to the Lords.

As the Guardian reported, Labour then “tabled seven planned amendments to the bill, one of which would guarantee a ‘meaningful vote in parliament’ on any final deal. Another amendment would be to guarantee the protection of workers’ rights and securing ‘full tariff- and impediment-free access’ to the EU’s single market. The other five amendments are: to ensure the Brexit secretary, David Davis, reports on progress to the Commons at least every two months; guaranteeing the rights of foreign EU nationals living in the UK; obliging regular consultation with the devolved governments; requir[ing] regular impact assessments on the effects of leaving the single market; and [obliging] the government to keep all existing EU tax avoidance and evasion measures. The final amendment is targeted at the government’s threat that if the UK does not get a sufficiently good deal from the EU it will walk away and shift the economy towards low regulation and tax.”

These are sensible amendments, but Jeremy Corbyn then imposed a three-line whip on Labour MPs, insisting that they all vote with the government and pass the bill — presumably because of fears that, otherwise, pro-Brexit Leave voters will be alienated.

Quite why the concerns of Remain voters should so thoroughly dismissed was not explained by Jeremy Corbyn, but it has, understandably, led to rebellions by shadow ministers and MPs.

Lest we forget, although 17.4 million people voted for Brexit (37.4% of eligible voters), and 16.1 million voted against it (34.7% of eligible voters) — and another 13 million (27.9% of eligible voters) didn’t vote at all — those results are not reflected in the views held by MPs.

As we went into the referendum, 479 out of 637 MPs who had declared an intention were voting Remain — almost exactly 75%, with just 12 MPs’ opinions unknown.

Of the Tories, 185 supported Remain, while just 138 supported Leave. For Labour, 218 supported Remain, while just ten supported Leave. And all 54 SNP MPs supported Remain, as did all eight Liberal Democrats, and 22 of the 24 other MPs from other parties, including Caroline Lucas of the Green Party.

And yet, since June 23, Remain voters have found themselves almost entirely sidelined in discussions about Brexit, in the media and also in Parliament, despite the fact that this is the most significant decision in the lifetimes of anyone born after the UK joined the EU in 1973, despite the fact that it is hugely significant whether leaving the EU means leaving the single market (which we were not asked about), or leaving the customs union (which, again, we were not asked about), in order to allegedly control our borders, and even though doing so might well be the single most devastating act of economic suicide committed by any country in living memory.

Against our valid fears of an economic apocalypse, all we have been given in response is the would-be tyranny of Theresa May, seeking to exclude Parliament from its sovereign role, and aggressive Leavers complaining, monotonously, that “you lost, get over it,” as though disentangling ourselves from 43 years of laws and treaties is a simple binary choice, and not, as I recently described it, “like deliberately cutting a living body in half but then having only a few minutes to conduct the major surgery required to not let the patient die.”

When not snapping at us, the Leavers have also demonstrated a hopelessly sunny and deluded optimism, adopted by people up to and including David Davis, whose behaviour suggests that they believe that upbeat jingoism and nationalism and obsessive British pride and self-obsession is a reflection of reality rather than a hopelessly outdated delusion from the inhabitants of an island nation and former imperial power with a deluded sense of its own importance, which is proposing cutting itself off from a club that numerous other countries would dearly love to be a member of.

And yet, as the vote on Article 50 approaches, the 16.1 million of us who voted Remain are still barely represented. In December, just 89 of the 479 MPs who supported Remain last June voted against a non-binding but symbolically significant proposal to allow Theresa May to trigger Article 50 by the end of March — 23 Labour, 5 Lib Dems, 51 SNP, Green MP Caroline Lucas, Ken Clarke of the Conservatives and eight others — and, two months on, those who voted Remain are no closer to being adequately represented.

Tory Remainers are so far largely refusing to break ranks — although one can only hope they find their spine when the two years of negotiations that follow the triggering of Article 50 begin — because, presumably, their constituents will not take kindly to having their wishes betrayed, as Zac Goldsmith learned in Richmond in December. Raphael Behr had an article in the Guardian yesterday about the silent Tory rebels, but every indication is that none but Ken Clarke will rebel now, and that, as in December, only around 90 MPs will vote against the bill to trigger article 50; in other words, despite the 16.1 million of us who voted Remain getting 48.1% of the vote, and despite 75% of MPs having supported Remain, just 14% of MPs will represent the wishes of the 48.1%. When the SNP MPs are taken out of that equation, the situation is even more scandalously unrepresentative, with only around 6% of English, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs prepared to stand by the 14.5 million Remain voters in the three countries — and 94% of MPs supporting the 16.4 million who voted to Leave. This massive representational imbalance — and the accompanying disdain for Remain voters from their own MPs — must surely be remedied over the next two years or there will be hell to pay at the ballot box in 2020.

As Polly Toynbee wrote in a Guardian article yesterday, ‘Labour MPs owe a duty to the country – not Corbyn’s absurd three-line whip’:

It is the first duty – the patriotic duty – of elected politicians to protect citizens from danger and promote their wellbeing, as they see it. Yet out of cowardice or political self-interest most will vote this week for what they think will profoundly and permanently damage their electors.

A quarter of MPs will joyfully vote us out of the EU, because these Europhobes sincerely believe this wayward self-destruction is in the national interest. But three times more MPs never supported Brexit, knowing it to be an error looking more damaging by the day. Still, they will vote for it all the same. Ignoring Edmund Burke’s instruction to act as representatives and leaders, instead they will cravenly follow what a small majority thought one day in June.

They “respect” the result of the referendum, they repeat nervously. Why? It was a consultative vote that failed to define Brexit on what terms, with what sacrifices or at what price. So foolishly certain were both main parties that they would swing a remain result, they agreed a referendum without setting a threshold beyond a bare majority. They added no mechanism for agreeing an unknowable Brexit deal at the end of negotiations. MPs should now salvage and repair some of that negligence.

Focusing specifically on pro-EU Labour MPs in constituencies where a majority of voters supported leave, Toynbee added:

What a dismal spectacle to see life-long pro-Europeans in Brexit-voting constituencies crumpling to “respect the will of the people” for fear of losing their seats. Those who rebel are virtually all in remain seats, where that “respect” is simpler.
Labour MPs caught in that dilemma plead their working-class voters’ indignation at immigration, suppressed wages, over-run public services – even though many of these seats have few migrants: relatively few are like the much-quoted Boston or Barking. These MPs defend themselves by sneering at “metropolitans” who, they say, don’t understand north-eastern or Midland seats.

I would reply to them that they have a deeper duty to their voters than obeying how they voted that day. MPs’ duty is to lead and defend their people from Brexit’s reduced living standards. Make the case. Stand by what you believe and explain why Brexit will harm them, their children and their grandchildren. Talk about why a stable alliance in which we have an equal voice is stronger than the haphazard chance of trade deals with the likes of US, China or the Gulf – none the size of our EU trade.

Nor is this primarily a class question: the old are more to blame for Brexit. But as older cohorts drop off the perch, Labour MPs should stand up for the new young voters reaching the register. They say economics can’t win the EU argument alone – though if brutal Brexit predictions turn horribly real, that will change. If emotional patriotism matters most, then our sovereignty is safer with Europe, not demeaning our sovereign in a golden carriage ride down the Mall with Trump. Our status in the world is stronger as a leading EU member than alone, striking dishonourable deals with dictators. Shunning Trump and re-embracing Europe best reflects British values, who we are, what we believe and what binds us to democracies like ours: it’s not too late.

Based on my analysis of the disaster that Brexit will be for our economy — in part confirmed by Ian Dunt’s excellent and highly recommended book, Brexit: What The Hell Happens Now? — I’d love to see a majority of MPs vote against the proposal to trigger Article 50 by the end of March, because, to be frank, I want to see Brexit stopped — to save my country from returning to the 1860s or becoming an international tax haven with no money for public services — but I doubt that will happen, leaving myself and the rest of the 16.1 million to count on MPs fighting to secure the least damaging Brexit deal possible in the two years of negotiations following the triggering of Article 50 — with a particular focus on the importance of the single market and the customs union, and with the understanding that, if it becomes apparent during negotiations that it will be an unprecedented economic disaster, MPs can and must stop it.

Exact details of how constituencies voted have been hard to come by, but Chris Hanretty, a Reader in Politics at the University of East Anglia, published estimates after the referendum suggesting that around 230 of Parliament’s 650 constituencies voted Remain, and that the majority for Leave was only between 0.1% and 7% in the next 100 seats, taking us to a majority of the country’s 650 seats. These figures suggest to me that, if the true, catastrophic cost of Brexit can be exposed following the triggering of Article 50 (a task that, presumably, must fall to MPs because so much of our media is biased in favour of the Leave campaign), it is not inconceivable that Brexit can be stopped.

Numerous polls since the referendum (see here, here, here and here) indicate that the Leavers’ majority has already been overturned, and I would argue that the only reasonable response to this, given the enormity of what is at stake, is for there to be another referendum based on the details of leaving the EU, not the simple desire to do so, or for MPs, when they get to vote on the details of our planned departure, presumably in 2019, to refuse to endorse them, before the UK sinks under the weight of its hubristic and dangerously unwarranted self-regard.

Note: The illustration at the top of this article is by the illustrator Nate Kitch. See his website for more

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp).

He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

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